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Published: October 30th 2013
Moonrise over Cordes Junction
This was our 2nd stay at the little campground; we had stayed here on the way TO the Grand Canyon. Great stopover with quiet, nice scenery, and an wonderful diner.
We left Grand Canyon and headed for Phoenix. This was going to be the culmination of our travels and the big reason we took this extended trip--to see John's Aunt Dosia Carlson and Greta Wiseman. Greta had recently been in the hospital and we wanted to get to Arizona and spend some time with both of them. They also had decided to sell the home they had lived in for almost 40 years and move into the retirement center at the Beatitudes, a United Church of Christ full retirement village in Glendale, AZ. This is the same center John's grandparents had lived in back in the 1980's.
BUT...we had a problem. The transmission was still acting up and we were getting worried. It was becoming harder to shift gears, particularly early in the morning when we started up. Since we had a number of mountains to traverse, we thought we ought to get it checked out. So we headed for Flagstaff and an AAMCO dealer. We have had previous transmission issues years past, and AAMCO has always been honest, reasonable, and reliable. We reached the dealer late morning and because I had called the day before, they were waiting for
Well arranged storage
Dosia and Greta had to downsize when they moved (don't we all as we get older) and had help in arranging and labeling the things that wouldn't fit. We envied their orderliness and structure.
us. After filling out initial paperwork, they told us to go get some lunch and they would give the power train a 109 point inspection, test drive it and let us know what was needed. It should take about an hour.
We had a good lunch at a small diner they recommended and got back about 45 minutes later. The mechanic came up and told me they were done and he had "good news and bad news". (Don't you just hate that kind of an introduction? Does anyone ever ask for the bad news first?) The good news was there was nothing wrong with the transmission. It was full, fluid was clean, no leaks, was not overheating, and everything was wonderful. Hmmm, here it comes...the bad news. BUT...they had found some kind of leak under the engine and it "appeared" to be from a "possible cracked head gasket". Now I am not a mechanic, but even I know that is not a good thing. Then they added the worser news--they don't do engines. So they recommended I get a gasket seal, pour into the radiator and let it seal any cracks. One mechanic had done that to his daughter's
Greta and Dosia relaxing
Downsizing to a smaller apartment can't be easy. But they have a wonderfully compact and convenient place, and have found their "comfort" spots and retained their favorite chairs.
car and never had another problem. Oh, yes, I also needed 6 quarts of anti-freeze. To AAMCO's credit, I was not charged a penny...the inspection is always free and they put the anti-freeze in just because. We were told we should have no problem getting to Phoenix, but to watch all the fluid levels.
Off we went, wondering and worrying, and hoping to get to Phoenix by nightfall. Nope, didn't happen. It was late, getting dark and we were tired. So we got to Cordes Junction and pulled off to spend the night at a small RV Campground and motel. We had stopped here on our way to Grand Canyon. The sites are on the back side of the motel and truck stop - sounds ominous, but no lights or noise and beautiful views of sunrise over mountains. They have ONE bathroom, at the motel, and the shower attached is kept locked unless you request it. (Apparently they have had a problem with truckers using and messing it up.) We didn't need the shower so were happy just to hook up, eat and get on our way in the morning. But next AM, we opted to try the diner.
We drove just a short distance from the retirement center and suddenly we were in mountains and park land. They have ramadas placed around for picnics; you can see one in the foreground where we ate.
OMG!!! What a great breakfast!!! And inexpensive. I had eggs, pancakes, home fries and bacon. Couldn't eat it all. Had leftovers next day. Same for Trish. So it was natural to want to stop here again. This time we DID want a shower. The manager said let me know when and she'd unlock. After dinner we went up and she quickly came out to open the shower room. She explained she had just gone in and cleaned it for us since she knew we would be wanting to take it on. Great Service!! Then, next morning, another great breakfast with leftovers. I had breakfast enchalidas with egg and bacon, covered in sauce and cheese and baked with a side of hash browns. Trish has 2 eggs, 2 strips of bacon, and 2 biscuits smothered in sausage gravy. Problem with the biscuits was, they were the size of large English muffins and huge. So she had more leftovers. All in all, a great place to spend the night and great breakfasts. (May have to go back sometime and try the dinners....)
We found the mobile home and rv park where I had reservations and pulled in to get our space.
Dosia and Ester Rings at picnic
Dosia and Ester had come to Japan to visit us in 1992. We had a ball then and were SO glad Ester could go on our picnic and share stories and see our pictures of the kids. She marveled at how they have grown and changed.
It was not elegant, but very adequate. There was room to park the car and we had a concrete patio. The mobile home park had a nice pool and hot tub and wonderful showers at the pool. Once we were set up, we called Dosia and drove the very short distance to the Beatitudes to see her.
My aunt is an amazing woman. She had polio as a young girl (does anyone worry about that anymore, or even know what it is?) and has needed a wheel chair or crutches since. As a result (I choose this qualifier carefully), she has only
been able to: get a college degree, get a masters degree, get her PhD, write a book, write and publish music, become an ordained minister, travel around the world several times, serve on boards advising on service to the elderly, and most important, be a wonderful aunt and friend to heaps of nephews, nieces, and great nephews and nieces.
As long as I can remember, Dosia has always had a remarkable friend live with her to help with some of the more difficult issues, like putting away things up high, heavy lifting, and moving furniture. For
The desert plant MAY be able to grow in Alabama. Trish found a nice one at a cactus store so we are now carrying it in the back seat of the car and once we get home, we'll plant it and see how it does.
the past 40 some years, Greta Wiseman has been that friend. Greta is a nurse who spent time in Pakistan teaching and ministering to the needy and has stories of life in rural Asia that are fascinating. She is a strong woman who has a gentle touch, but a will of steel when necessary. One of our first memories of her was a visit we made to Phoenix in the 1980's where we borrowed her car to drive to Palm Springs; she wouldn't let us go until we had been given a safety lesson on the desert and had the necessary accoutrements in the trunk--5 gal of water, anti-freeze, BIG hats for sun, sun screen, tarp for shade, shovel, duct tape, and several other items we hoped we wouldn't need. But we appreciated her concern and knowledge.
About a year ago, concerns of health led them to move from the lovely home they had next to the Beatitudes campus into a smaller apartment. It is a first floor, 2 bedroom garden apartment with a lovely patio porch. But they needed to downsize and this created concern and consternation. They are still sorting through some boxes, trying to categorize memorabilia,
Last night's dinner
The Beatitudes has several dining halls. This one featured prime rib, so we all went and had a marvelous meal, relaxing and chatting. It reminded us very much of meals we had enjoyed at the Officer's Club in Iwakuni, Japan.
and decide what is still needed. As a result, they have a storage unit with a lot of the items neatly arranged for use or future review. We spent a morning helping Dosia look through some of the items as she was preparing for some upcoming classes she would be teaching.
We also spent time sitting and sharing pictures of our kids. Dosia had just returned from Orlando, FL, where she had gone for a week with her brother (my uncle) and his wife. Uncle Bob is a retired minister and lives in Sedona. We passed through on our way to the Grand Canyon, but they were in Orlando at the time. On the return to Phoenix, we were concerned about the transmission and leakage and wanted to get to the larger metro area as quickly as possible in the event of a major issue, so we opted to not take time to detour. While in Orlando, Josh drove down with both boys (Jen was working) and saw Dosia and met Bob and Millie. Dosia was the minister who had married Josh and Jen and was delighted to meet the two boys.
Dosia and Greta both have electric scooters and once in them, they zip all over the campus. We went to the Bistro for dinner one night, scooted around campus to see the sights, and zipped to a fine dining hall for prime rib on the last night. Greta wasn't feeling well one afternoon so didn't come on the picnic we had at Squaw Peak with Ester. We drove up to this metro park and sitting up high on a mountain, you hardly realized you were in the midst of one of the largest cities in the US. With Ester, we re-lived the Japan adventures, had sandwiches and fruit, watched nature, and enjoyed the outdoors.
In all too short a time, we needed to move on. Greta had a sister coming for a visit and we wanted to give the ladies time to recoop from our visit before more family arrived. I had also decided that the RV could benefit from a good review by a qualified and trusted dealer. Lazydays is such a dealer. We bought the RV in Florida in 2004 upon our return from Japan and now they had a second location in Tucson. So I scheduled an appointment for a full inspection; they would provide a detailed list of all problems and estimated cost for each. We could decide the priorities and they would fix. It might be expensive, but we would have the peace of mind of a safe and secure vehicle.
With fond farewells, we bid good-bye to Dosia and Greta. It had been a good, fun filled visit filled with sharing of memories and family and a renewal of great affection for both ladies. Now it was off through the desert again on our way home.
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